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Scott Brown launches dark new ad about Elizabeth Warren’s work on coal miners’ case

Senator Scott Brown has released a dark new ad highlighting Elizabeth Warren’s work representing LTV Steel in a case involving health care for retired coal workers and their families.

“The coal company had moved on, but they didn’t just leave buildings behind. LTV Steel went to court to avoid paying health benefits it had promised to retired coal miners,” the narrator says amid black-and-white images of a gutted warehouse, a discarded work boot, and grainy footage of Warren.

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The ad calls Warren a “hired gun,” and repeats the refrain, used in other Brown commercials, that she is “not who she says she is.” Brown has been trying to undermine Warren’s reputation as a champion for consumers, in large part by highlighting her work on several court cases in which she represented corporations.

Warren helped write a petition to the US Supreme Court for LTV Steel in the 1990s, assisting the former industrial conglomerate in its fight against a congressional requirement that it pay millions of dollars into a fund for its retired coal miners’ health care. Her campaign said she was paid about $10,000.

Warren argues that the retirees’ benefits were not in danger, even if LTV had won its legal battle, because other companies would have picked up the tab. And she argues that she was fighting for a principle that could protect less powerful people who have claims against bankrupt companies.

But labor unions and others opposing LTV argued at the time that LTV and other companies were trying to dodge paying into the fund. They argued that any exceptions to the Coal Act, a congressional act that established the fund for more than 100,000 retirees and their families, could jeopardize the fund’s viability and put the agreement to pay health care for the retirees at risk.

Noah Bierman can be reached at nbierman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.
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